Today is A-level results day. I am sure there are plenty of people either celebrating or commiserating. If you did well, then great. If not then hopefully I can help put some perspective on the matter.
One thing I remember about when I was at school (94-99) was being told that without qualifications I stood ‘no chance’ in life. My parents were told the same thing, and young adults are still being told this today. Apart from the obvious reason teachers say this (they are targeted on results), they are also likely to have spent their entire lives in the education system, so to accept any other option could devalue the work they have put in.
Personally, I hated school and did not continue into colleage or university. I actually believe that children are forced to learn too quickly, and this puts their relationship with education at risk. My feelings on this mean I lean maybe a little bit towards the far left, so keep this in mind as you read on!
Clearly there are some jobs that absolutely require certain qualifications, and rightfully so as these tend to be jobs where health is involved. Whether that be physical health, mental health or general safety such as a structural engineer.
However, in most other jobs it is about getting your foot in the door and then working hard. The issue is getting your foot in the door.
To do this, you have to be persistent and committed to walking from door to door pestering companies to employ you. Don’t do something passive like send a letter and then hope for a response. If you really want something, go and make it happen. Would you take the same approach if you were waiting for tickets to your favourite sporting event, or music concert? No, you would relentlessly call the ticket office and go and wait in line all night if need be. Look at how many people queue up when an iPhone is released!
I know this sounds mad, but if someone had turned up at E-Tale HQ at 7 am and waited at the doors for me, then demanded that I allow them to give me a presentation on why I should employ them, I would have found them a job even if I was not hiring. This would show a huge demonstration that they have the drive to get up, turn-up and execute a plan. So why not pick 30 companies you would like to work for and try it? Stalk the CEO on Twitter, find out what projects they are working on, contact them and demand a job (politely). Trust me any CEO of a startup company will admire your courage and persistence. If they don’t, then you would not want to work for them anyway.
The truth is that it’s hard to make it through life with or without A-Levels. The myth that the grades alone will get you a job is pure fiction. For me as an employer, I only see qualifications as a demonstration that someone can apply themselves. If they don’t have qualifications, I personally will take any other proof of this. This could be a personal project, charity work, raising children or even writing a book. Look at the founder of dating site ‘Plenty of Fish’. He started that company as something to use on his CV to show he had skills. He sold this company this year for $575 million…. in cash!
I left school and decided university was not for me, for numerous reasons. I went onto set up my own startup company and sold it a few years later. It probably equalled the same amount of stress and hard work that University brings, but it was the right thing for me to do.
So what I am saying here is that qualifications are one factor, but they are not the only factor. If your grades are good, then great. If they are not good then maybe take this as a sign that structured education is not for you and get out and crack on immediately. I promise you that if you look hard enough, you will find plenty of people like me who are always looking for the next startup superstar!